Nigerian navy, MDA intensify effort to locate hijacked vessel in Gulf of Guinea
Nigerian Navy high command has said it is intensifying operations through the use of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) to locate a tanker boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, less than three weeks after the hijacking of a tanker named MT Monjasa Reformer on the high sea.
According to the naval spokesman, Olukayode Ayo-Vaughan, the attack took place in the deep sea, off the coast of Ivory Coast and not in Nigerian waters.
His words: “The attack happened deep sea off the coast of Ivory Coast not in Nigerian waters. We are making efforts using our Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) System with various partners to locate the position of the vessel before further action on assistance to be rendered.”
The Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade–Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) information centre had reported that the latest incident occurred on Monday, April 10 approximately 300 nautical miles south-southwest of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The EOS Risk Group commented that the latest incident suggests it is likely another vessel was used to support the pirates.
EOS Risk Group had said the latest boarding incident shows West African pirates’ ability to conduct piracy further from shore even as it advised vessels to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant, maintaining strict anti-piracy watch and measures.
The communication with the Monjasa Reformer was said to have been lost after it was attacked by armed pirates 140nm west of the Republic of Congo’s Port Pointe-Noire on March 26. The vessel was eventually located four days later approximately 90nm south of Bonny, Nigeria, with six crew members missing.
The number of incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery reported worldwide fell to its lowest recorded level in almost three decades last year, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau.
The Gulf of Guinea, in particular, witnessed a reduction in the number of piracy incidents and crew kidnappings, with IMB data revealing 19 reported incidents in 2022, down from 35 the year before.
The recent successful attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Guinea have been reportedly attributed to the recent departure of a Danish frigate from the area. The frigate had reportedly protected ships, deterred attacks and arrested pirates since 2021 but was pulled back late last year.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reportedly warned that sustained efforts are needed to ensure the continued safety of seafarers in the region, which remains dangerous as proven by these latest incidents.